“Evie!” Milo snapped his fingers in front of my face as I blinked, glaring at him. “We’re going to run the song again. Ready?”
I nodded without a word. The music began in my headset again before I leaned forward and sang into the microphone.
I had been in Memphis for nearly six months now. Six months of being on my own. Six months without the club. Fuck, six months without Dusty.
Each day that passed by, I could feel my very existence slipping away. I thought leaving the club life behind and starting over was what I need to be truly happy, but I felt worse.
Nothing about my new life was easy.
“Cut!” Milo slammed his hands down on the soundboard before he roughly grabbed my arm. “Are you fucking awake today?!” He tapped my temple, making my daily headache come back to life with a vengeance.
I winced, leaning away from him. “Sorry, Milo. I’m good.” I didn’t even recognize my own voice. It was shaky and timid.
“Well, you better be. I’m paying a fuck ton of money for this studio time. Get your head in the fucking game, Evie.” He cleared his throat, signaling for the guys in the sound room to start the music again.
I hated when he sat in the booth with me, and I didn’t understand why he did. He only made me more nervous as he glared at me, waiting for perfection.
Once the son was over, I was able to put my headphones back on their hook. I turned to peer up at Milo who motioned for the guys in the sound room to take their exit. I gulped, hating to be alone with him. He fucking terrified me.
He turned to me, running his fingers up my bare arm and eventually over my chest.
“You did okay today.”
Then he slid from the stool and stood right in front of me, unbuttoning my blouse as I held my breath. The last time I tried to stop him, I got a fist-sized bruise on my cheekbone.
“Milo,” I breathed. I felt too open in the booth knowing anyone could walk in on us at any moment.
He grabbed my chin, forcing me to look up at him. “Nobody’s going to come in, and you want to know how I know that?”
I didn’t need him to tell me because I already knew. Milo and Limelight Records owned this studio and I also knew that Milo threatened anyone and everyone. I wasn’t surprised to know that he threatened those who didn’t give him his privacy; even me.
When I shook my head, Milo smiled and leaned down slightly to kiss my lips.
The sound of his zipper made my gaze shoot down to his groin area. He stuck his hand into his jeans and pulled out his cock, slowly stroking himself.
I stopped denying Milo months ago. Several black eyes and a dozen cut-up lips later, I knew better than to deny him. With shaky legs, I slid from my stool and got on my knees, taking him into my mouth. I flicked my tongue over the head just the way he liked it.
Milo entwined his fingers in my hair as he thrust his hips forward, causing me to gag on his length. Tears slid down my cheeks as I looked up at him. His head was leaned back, clearly enjoying himself, and all I could think about was biting down hard to end this nightmare.
I drug my teeth along his shaft as he gripped my hair tightly and yanked backward. His cock left my mouth with a slurping pop sound as I tried to catch my breath.
He glared down as he leaned forward and got right in my face. My scalp burned from his tight grip on my hair.
“You know how much I hate it when you use your teeth. You weren’t going to bite my dick off, were you?”
I shook my head, not able to speak. It irritated me that Milo seemed to always be in my head, knowing what I was thinking about. He always seemed to be one step ahead of me at all times.
“Good. If I feel your teeth again, you’re not going to have any teeth left.” He pulled my head forward, plunging his cock back into my mouth as he hit the back of my throat, gagging me once more.
I stood in front of the mirror, staring at my reflection. Who was this fucking person? I ran my fingers through my dark hair, missing my blonde locks as my eyes scanned down over my makeup-covered neck. I grabbed a makeup remover wipe and went to town, viciously scrubbing it off until the makeup gave way and revealed the tattoos beneath it.
“What are you doing here?” I asked my reflection as I stood back and saw the somewhat familiar face looking back at me.
Eyeliner streaked down my cheeks and my lips were swollen from the collagen injections Milo made me get. I looked like a fucking monster. And for what? Money? Fame?
Milo’s voice came into the room, telling me that he was on the phone. “I don’t give a fuck what Joe says! I want this fucking album dropped this month! We’ve been working on it for six fucking months! It’s ready.”
I knew which album he was referring to; the album I had nothing to do with other than singing some lyrics put in front of my face. Milo made me feel like my songs were golden and my lyrics a masterpiece when he signed me, but I had yet to see any of my ideas taken seriously. I was their puppet.
“Get it done!” He slammed something hard against the door, making me jump. “Evie! What the fuck are you doing in there?!”
Taking a deep breath, I left the bathroom and flinched when I saw the look on his face.
“You look like shit. Why would you do that? You know we have a dinner meeting tonight.” He sighed. “Now I have to call the makeup crew to come back up here.” He slammed his hands on the desk, making me jump again. “Sit.” He pointed at the chair in front of his desk, and I sat without hesitation.
Six months ago, I would never have been treated like this. I wouldn’t allow anyone to talk down to me, but now that I was all alone, penniless, and without a club to back me up, I felt defeated. I felt beaten down.
I sat frozen in my chair as the makeup crew smothered my neck and face again while Milo continued on with his phone calls, screaming at the next poor bastard who answered his calls. When they were finished with my neck and face, Milo smiled over at me.
“There’s my girl.” He stood from behind his desk, shrugging on his fancy black jacket. “Ready to go? The car is waiting.”
As we rode down the elevator together, Milo’s hand on the small of my back, I couldn’t help but wonder what Dusty was doing at that exact moment.
“Remember, you’re no longer Evie Kidd. You’re Mia Starr.” Milo’s hot breath on my neck sent cold chills down my spine.
I knew who I was, but did he?